At some point we all forget that the world does not in fact revolve around us. I think focusing on ourselves and being selfish, to some extent, is very necessary at times. But the hardest part of being selfish without feeling bad about it is knowing when we can and when we cannot only worry about ourselves. Unfortunately, I am not about to give you a fool proof formula or a step by step manual on how to be selfish without being too selfish. What I am going to advise though, is to not worry about ourselves or worry about how often we talk about ourselves, but worry instead about what we have and how we can be thankful for it all.
If we are being honest, at this point in our lives we generally get the privilege of knowing it could be worse. I am not trying to equate all of our life’s experiences and possessions, but when I am equating is how crucial it is to be thankful for everything we do have. This concept really started to hit home with me when Paris was attacked on November 13. I am not educated enough or brave enough quite frankly to talk about this topic given how often such topics become controversial, offend others. etc.; but I am interested in saying how it impacted my current perspective about being abroad.
When I first heard of the attacks I was in Greve with friends, drinking wine and having dinner. My dad had texted me about them, ensuring my safety and informing me that he had yet to hear from my uncles who live in Paris. Immediately, my current privilege slapped me in the face. Here I was drinking wine and thinking of nothing other than myself and my friends, and the world was in crisis.
I tried to think back to when I last spoke to my uncle, to when I last thanked my parents for always keeping in touch, to when I last did anything that wasn’t solely focused on me, and I couldn’t think of anything. Trying to make sense of everything that had seemed to happen with a single text from my dad was nearly impossible. All I wanted to do was thank everyone in my life for being in my life. I am not sure what the Paris attacks should have made me feel, and to this day I still do not know how to summarize my feelings into words, but I do know that I will never take for granted the people in my life or the things I have in life.
We have so much more privilege than we know what to do with. We need to take time and think about what we have and how we can take advantage of it. Thank those you love and those who have helped you get to where you are today. Keep doing you, but don’t forget to be thankful that you get to keep doing you.